Friday, September 20, 2013

Jovarn's Milk Powder Question .... Answered!

Here at Science in a Van we love the fact that science is everywhere. Emily often finds Alan pondering over stuff. This isn't a problem until it gets super curious! Many times Emily has had to hold Alan back in a museum as he wants to climb over the barriers to get close to discover how something works!

So, Alan was really pleased when he met Jovarn at Our Lady of Fatima School in Christchurch. Jovarn came up to Alan after our 'What's the Matter' show which is all about materials. He had a question ...

In our class we are reading a book called "Dead Man's Head" about a mischievous group of kids. In the the story they go to a cheese factory and eat hot milk powder and they have to scrape it off their teeth. My question is, how do you turn milk into milk powder? 

This made Alan scratch his head. He thought about all the ways he knew to separate a material... pouring stuff through filters, spinning stuff around, changing the temperature ... but Alan had never through about how milk powder was made. Alan, loving a mystery, thought a good Google search was required!

He discovered that the basic idea behind the process is taking the liquid milk from the cow and heating it. The water evaporates leaving you with everything else in a dry powdered form. This is the same as when you take a bowl of salty water and leave it out in the sun. The water evaporates leaving the dry salt behind.

Powdered milk was first done by a Russian physician who came up with this as a production process in 1802. But the first real commercial viable process was achieved by a fellow Russian M. Dirchoff in 1832.

Alan is from London in England and grew up listening to stories about milk powder when it was rationed during the war. The image at the top is an original container from 1947, provided by the Ministry of Food in London, England.

To find out a whole lot more you can read the Wikipedia article here or listen to it here 

It is so great when something we do, see, read or hear gets us thinking. In this case it was reading a good book. We hope that Jovarn and his mates of class one at Our Lady of Fatima enjoyed the end of their book. You can listen to parts of it here on the Radio New Zealand website (they even have a recipe for Uncle Ted's Dead Man's Head!).

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